American legislators have criticised Live Nation’s failure to block bot purchases of tickets organised by touts.
A hearing was called by US senators after the ticket sale process for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour went into meltdown in November. Ticketmaster cancelled the planned general sale after more than 3.5 billion requests overwhelmed its website. The superstar described the experience as “excruciating”.
"We apologise to the fans, we apologise to Ms Swift, we need to do better and we will do better," said Joe Berchtold, president and CFO of parent company Live Nation, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
"In hindsight there are several things we could have done better – including staggering the sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job setting fan expectations for getting tickets," said Berchtold.
Senators criticised Ticketmaster’s fees on tickets as well as handling of the Swift tour sale, which failed to prevent bots buying up tickets which could then have been sold by touts at higher prices.
"There isn't transparency when no one knows who sets the fees," said Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar, who heads up the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.
"I'm not against big per se, but I am against dumb," Republican senator John Kennedy told Berchtold during the hearing. "The way your company handled ticket sales for Ms Swift was a debacle, and whoever in your company was in charge of that should be fired.”
Klobuchar has suggested that the problems with the Swift sale were the result of consolidation in the ticketing industry.
In the wake of the Swift tour sale meltdown, Ticketmaster denied any anti-competitive practices. It remains under a consent decree with the Department Of Justice until 2025 following its 2010 Live Nation merger.